DILG 'doesn't recognize' Cebu's optional rule for masking outdoors | Inquirer News

DILG ‘doesn’t recognize’ Cebu’s optional rule for masking outdoors

/ 11:34 AM June 10, 2022

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the Cebu provincial government seem to be heading to another showdown, this time over the latter’s order making the use of face mask outdoor optional.

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DILG Secretary Eduardo Año on Friday refused to recognize the executive order issued by Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia which allowed individuals to do away with the national guideline on wearing face mask while outdoors.

According to Año, those found violating the guidelines set by the government’s pandemic task force on the wearing of face masks, as well as the minimum public health standards (MPHS) in the province of Cebu will still be confronted, apprehended, and arrested by the police, if necessary.

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“[T]his Department does not recognize the Executive Order issued by Cebu Governor Gwen Garcia because we have the IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases) Guidelines approved by the President. The Philippine National Police will continue to confront, apprehend, and arrest, if necessary, all violators of IATF Guidelines and MPHS in the Province of Cebu,” Año said in a statement on Friday.

“The President has directed that we will continue to wear face masks except under circumstances defined by [IATF],” he added.

FILE PHOTO DILG Sec. Eduardo Año and Cebu Gov. Gwen Garcia.

FILE PHOTO DILG Sec. Eduardo Año and Cebu Gov. Gwen Garcia.

At present, IATF guidelines “allow only for specific instances when masks can be taken off, such as when eating or during certain well-ventilated sports and activities,” according to Año.

On Thursday, Garcia issued Executive Order No. 16 making the wearing of face masks and open spaces not mandatory.

However, the DILG reminded the public and all local government units (LGUs) that the COVID-19 virus is “still present and the pandemic is not yet over.”

“Our adherence to [MPHS] is the key to defeating this pandemic. Wearing of face masks, together with vaccination and boosters have helped keep our COVID-19 case counts low despite the detection of new subvariants,” he said.

“Scientific evidence worldwide proves that the use of face masks reduces the transmission not only of COVID-19, but also of other infectious and respiratory diseases including Monkeypox, should it reach our country,” he added.

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“Individuals can still catch the virus, most especially our senior citizens and vulnerable population. We should therefore be vigilant, continue our adherence to all MPHS and get vaccinated or boosted immediately,” the DILG chief further said.

This is not the first time that the Cebu government has had a run-in with the national government in terms of implementation of health protocols since the COVID-19 pandemic started.

In February this year, Garcia insisted on implementing her order allowing the entry of foreign travelers to the province regardless of their vaccination status beginning March 1, despite the opposition from the national pandemic task force, in which Año serves as the vice chairman.

Prior to that in June 2021, Garcia also pushed with her policy of testing overseas Filipino workers (OFW) and residents returning from abroad on their arrival at Mactan Cebu International Airport (MCIA) despite President Rodrigo Duterte’s directive to follow guidelines set by the national pandemic task force.

She also insisted on promoting and requiring the use of handy air purifiers among employees who work in air-conditioned and poorly ventilated establishments. Personal air purifiers were being required to wear around their necks, supposedly as added protection against the coronavirus.

This, despite the Department of Health’s pronouncements that air purifiers could not provide protection against COVID-19 and would only give their wearers a false sense of security.

RELATED STORY:

In Cebu province: Face masks no longer required outdoors

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TAGS: Cebu, Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), Eduardo Año, face mask, Gwendolyn Garcia
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